Close on the heels of banning illegal organ transplants, China has forbidden unauthorised stem cell collection and transplantation, a panacea for a range of blood disorders.
Two sets of the regulations issued by the Chinese Ministry of Health said that the sources of peripheral blood stem cells or stem cells, must be legal, registered sources that can be traced.
The regulations aim to strengthen the management of stem cell collection and medical security, the ministry said. The regulations also forbid disclosing stem cell donor data.
Stem cells, which are the body's master cells, circulate in the blood and in tissues. Stem cell transplants have proved effective in treating blood diseases like sickle-cell anaemia, leukaemia and other blood disorders.
The ministry will review the capabilities of stem cell collecting and transplant in medical institutions. The roster of the approved institutions to carry out stem cell collection and transplants will be sent to the Chinese Marrow Donor Programme, which serves as a databank.
Under the regulations, medical institutions must obtain letters of consent from donors before collecting stem cells and must test for diseases transmitted by blood transmission, including AIDS, hepatitis, syphilis and malignant tumours.
Stem cells of donors with positive test results must not be used for stem cell transplants. The new rule on stem cells comes after China banned alleged rampant trade in human organs early this month.